The lone gunman theory remains the official position taken the United States Government with regards to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). The alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963) was convicted in the court of public opinion before standing trial in a Dallas courtroom. His assailant, Jack Ruby (1911-1967) permanently silenced Oswald forever and prevented Americans from knowing more about the former Marine that had once lived in the Soviet Union. The big question surrounding Kennedy’s death is who did it? The crime is similar to a black hole, puzzling even the most hardened researchers. The late Jim Marrs (1943-2017) once said that we know who killed Kennedy, we just have to look at the evidence. Author John M. Newman has joined the group of assassination researchers and has produced this first volume in what will be a multi-volume set about the deadly events in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.
In this first volume, Newman sets the tone for what will soon follow. In comparison to other books about the murder, this volume is not focused on Kennedy’s death. In fact, the murder is only mentioned a handful of times. The story that is presented here is of the revolution in Cuba, Fidel Castro (1926-2016) and Washington’s fears of Soviet expansion. As Fulgencio Batista (1971-1973) struggled to maintain control of Cuba, the CIA was closely watching the events taking place in the streets of Havana. Students, revolutionary groups and activists formed a nexus of opposition to Batista’s corrupt regime. At first it might seem counterproductive to write about the Cuban Revolution if the book is about Kennedy’s murder. But what is important to keep in mind is that Newman is slowly setting the stage for what would eventually happen in Dallas. It is generally accepted by researchers that Kennedy’s death was by no means the actions of just one person. In fact, the list of those who opposed the young president was long and for a good explanation of how many forces were conspiring against Kennedy, I strongly recommend Col. John Hughes Wilson’s JFK: An American Coup D’etat: The Truth Behind the Kennedy Assassination, which provides a clear picture of the looming threat to the occupant in the White House.
I strongly believe that to understand Kennedy’s murder, it is necessary to understand exactly what was happening in Cuba and how it played out during Kennedy’s presidency. Newman’s focus is not on the mission in the jungles of Cuba by bearded revolutionaries. His goal here is to uncover the actions of the CIA and finally reveal the characters involved and what purpose they played as Castro took power and led Cuba down the communist path. Acronyms and code names become the norm but if we pay close attention, we come to realize that many of the figures are discussed in other books. However, there are two who stand out here and deserve special mention. Newman goes into the complicated and mysterious stories of Catherine Taeffe and June Cobb (1927-2015). The latter has been written about before and her story is still puzzling to this day. Thousands of pages of records have been released giving us a better picture Cobb’s association with the CIA and Newman ties all of if together here providing a thorough back story as to who she really was. Taeffe is yet another figure who has eluded scrutiny in many books but it is here that her importance to Washington becomes clear. And by the time Newman is finished, the reader will surely realize that there was far more taking place in Washington with regards to Cuba than most Americans could have ever imagined. To be even more frank, things in Cuba had heated up and it is truly a miracle that an all out invasion of the island never materialized.
There are many names in the book and it is easy to get distracted as the author moves through the story. I do think that a quick primer on the crime will help readers make it through the subject matter. As a rule, I always recommend Jim Marrs ‘Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy‘, which still remains one of the best-selling books on Kennedy’s death. With that being said, Newman does an excellent job of focusing on one aspect of the matter and exploring it into exhaustive detail. I am now on to the second volume and his multi-volume approach will undoubtedly change the way Kennedy’s assassination is viewed through the eyes of even the most ardent researchers. What I also found to be exceptionally valuable is that Newman does not put forth conspiracy theories, his conclusions are based solely on the evidence that was released. And it is that approach that makes the book an even more exciting read.
I admit that the Kennedy murder is usually not at the top of the list of books to buy for a majority of readers. But the crime still remains one of America’s darkest moments. Perhaps one day we will finally know what really happened that day but until then, we can only reveal the truth layer by layer. If the author is consistent, the volumes that follow will be nothing short of exceptional. Good read.